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ABT Olympics 2017: Company Culture at Its Best

Culture Club: Who We Are

When you hear the phrase “Culture Club”, you likely think of Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? or Karma Chameleon. At ABT, the Culture Club is a group of employees who have a monthly budget to plan and implement fun events for everyone. We at ABT follow a “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality, and the Culture Club supports the latter. As president of the Culture Club, I’m lucky (and proud) to have helped the team organize company events for years. Our events range from our Pumpkin’ Chunkin’ at Halloween, to old-school egg drops, to team trivia, and to one of our favorites: the ABT Olympics.

What Are These Olympics All About?

On May 19th, we held our 7th Annual ABT Olympics— essentially a two hour field day for adults. The Culture Club decides on a number of games, sets the rules, assigns random teams, and our company competes for bragging rights and a custom trophy.  There’s plenty of fun debate over rules minutia, usually some shenanigans for the referees to have to sort out, and an entertaining combination of heated competition and whimsey. We always color-code our teams, and have some wearable object (t-shirt, wristband, etc.) to identify teams. For the second year in a row, we have used superhero capes. I cannot express the glee I have watching 50+ people in superhero capes playing team games!

What We Played This Year

Each year there is a mix of new and previous events. Teams can earn bronze, silver, or gold in each event. In 2017, this was the line-up:

Water Balloon Toss: Pretty much what you would expect. Teams of two throw a water balloon back and forth, getting farther apart from each other on every toss—as long as the balloon doesn’t break.

Rock/Paper/Scissors: A recent addition and favorite, a small-bracket tournament with fast-paced, head-to-head, hand-symbol domination.

Ladderball: We try and have a few games where everybody plays. Each person on a team has one throw, and the team with the highest total score wins. Simple concept, but not easy.

Sanskrit Scramble: An new ABT original.  We wanted a game incorporating a puzzle somehow.  Culture Club members created a two-person game where one person could see a set of sanskrit symbols, and had to relay the right symbols to their teammate who put tiles on a solution board.

Flip Cup: Another company “everyone plays” favorite. It’s a bracket tournament of standard flip cup. (Beer or nonalcoholic beverages allowed).

Final Relay:  A series of small events lined up in a relay to determine the overall winner of the Olympics. Teams that earned more medals in earlier events got a head start. The team flag is used as the “baton” that players pass as they complete part of the relay.  

2017 Olympics Highlights

As the ABT Olympics Emcee and assistant ref, I get a pretty good view of the events. As happens every year, we have a few highlights that stood out this year.

For the water balloon toss, each team has two pairs tossing balloons. Team Black (Black Beard Blazers) were both the best costumed, as pirates, and both pairs of athletes survived to the end securing their bragging rights for the event.

In Rock/Paper/Scissors, veteran Hap Wiggins of Team Purple (Eggplants) and recent hire Brian Smith of Team Green (Cash Me Outside) tore through the early rounds. They each dominated their first round and semi-final opponents. In the finals, however, Hap lost whatever psychological advantage he had built up, and Brian Smith came out victorious.

In Sanskrit Scramble, we had a slight referee snafu. (Happens most years, but we do our best to avoid these!)  We had one ref for each of the six teams, but unfortunately our answer sheets showed us only 10 of the 12 symbols in the solution. We had to resolve mid-event, but we’re confident that the teams that won medals did so legitimately. Team Red (Red Bull Alliance) was one of two teams ending up with a DNF claiming referee shenanigans. Their appeal was denied. This type of chaos is just part of the fun!

In the final relay, all six teams stayed pretty close to one another. There was a point that all six teams were on the plank skis at the same time, the second to last leg. With some impressive ski coordination, Team Pink (Rosé Raiders) took over the lead and ultimately won the Olympics. Team Yellow (Yellow Jackets) pulled up the rear by struggling with their flag at the end and letting Team Green ahead of them.

Thanks to Andrew Bartlett for shooting video and putting together this incredible highlights reel:

Looking Forward to 2018

After every Culture Club event, we gather feedback from the company so we can learn and improve for next year. The response was very positive again for the Olympics, and some great ideas for changes or new games were included. Now my only struggle is waiting another 12 months before we get to do it again!